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Keywords:

  • hurricane;
  • climate;
  • coastal geology;
  • salt marsh;
  • sedimentation;
  • New York

[1] Evidence of historical landfalling hurricanes and prehistoric storms has been recovered from backbarrier environments in the New York City area. Overwash deposits correlate with landfalls of the most intense documented hurricanes in the area, including the hurricanes of 1893, 1821, 1788, and 1693 A.D. There is little evidence of intense hurricane landfalls in the region for several hundred years prior to the late 17th century A.D. The apparent increase in intense hurricane landfalls around 300 years ago occurs during the latter half of the Little Ice Age, a time of lower tropical sea surface temperatures. Multiple washovers laid down between ∼2200 and 900 cal yr B.P. suggest an interval of frequent intense hurricane landfalls in the region. Our results provide preliminary evidence that fluctuations in intense hurricane landfall in the northeastern United States were roughly synchronous with hurricane landfall fluctuations observed for the Caribbean and Gulf Coast, suggesting North Atlantic–wide changes in hurricane activity.